Free Gaza

Lots more has been said today – but no one seems to be willing to press hard on Israel and hold them to account. David Milliband, the Shadow Foreign Scretary says: ‘The humanitarian suffering in Gaza is completely unjustified and self defeating for all those concerned with political progress in the Middle East.Vital supplies must be allowed into Gaza and the futile loss of civilian lives in this tragedy only increases that requirement.’ He says more here. I agree totally with what he says (you’d no doubt expect that as I am a Labour Party member) – but I have to say, David, it’s a real shame you did sodf all about this when you were the ACTUAL Foreign Secretary and could have done something about it.

The people ‘living’ (as regarding quality of life that is a loose term) in Gaza need food, medical supplies, water etc etc etc. The illegal Israeli blockade does not even allow concrete and other building materials through so that Palestinians can rebuild their homes. Instead, these people have to live amongst the rubble of what used to be their house.

If Israel will not allow humanitarian aid via road or sea from Turkey and other  close by states that it cannot trust – why can’t the European nations and the USA do something? I have a suggestion – why not have UK and us planes and helicopters fly aid and parachute it into Gaza … would Israel really accuse us of sending in military materials for Hamas and shoot down a Chinook helicopter?

WE have allowed these abuses to go on for too long. As humans we must stand up for justice of the oppressed. As Christians we need to be shouting louder about the everyday abuses that are allowed to exist here. no other country would be allowed to go unpunished for the abuses both inside and outside Israel that the Israelis have been allowed to commit … illegal building, illegal blockade, boarding a peaceful flotilla in inetrnational waters, ordering assassinations, cloning passports of its allies ….. the lack of respect and the arrognave shown to the rest of the world must stop.

Everyone hs a right to protect themselves – but regular disproportionate aggressions and violence is simply wrong.

The time for words is over …. surely it is time for Europe and the USA  to act!

Resignation to inaction or hold Israel to account?

Bishop Nick Baines blogs today about resignations,and I found myself massively agreeing with his view on the more serious resignation around the world ‘that Israel can do what it likes and get away with it – that in the end no one will hold Israel to account. They can build their illegal settlements, flout UN Resolutions at will, refuse to cooperate with the wider world (eg. nuclear proliferation negotiations) and commit atrocities against vulnerable people – and apart from a few sharp words, they can then carry on business as usual.’

Bishop Nick is of course referring to Israeli forces intercepting an unarmed flotilla attempting to take medical supplies and food to people in Gaza. As ever Israel speaks of ‘self defence and yet we read of deaths of unarmed civilians yet again from armed Israeli military personnel.

Many have protested and Israel will ignore those protests and simply carry on committing atrocities.

When will governments stand up and act against this country that flouts international laws and has total disregard or respect for human life and the views of those who disagree.

William Hague (the Foreign Secretary) speaks well today and says ‘there is a clear need for Israel to act with restraint and in line with international obligations.’ He goes on to say: ‘This news underlines the need to lift the restrictions on access to Gaza in line with UNSCR (UN Security Council Resolution) 1860.The closure (of access to Gaza) is unacceptable and counter-productive. There can be no better response from the international community to this tragedy than to achieve urgently a durable resolution to the Gaza crisis.

I call on the Government of Israel to open the crossings to allow unfettered access for aid to Gaza, and address the serious concerns about the deterioration in the humanitarian and economic situation and about the effect on a generation of young Palestinians.” 
We can pray that these are not merely empty words – the whole world knows the blockade is inhumane and inexcusable. What else does Israel need to do before the UN takes action – maybe banning sales of arms to Israel would be a good start!
We should pray that the global resignation that nothing will change can be crushed so that lives can be saved.

in court

Today was a more interesting Wednesday than normal. The day started with my normal routine Wednesday study time but today I stopped after lunch as I had to go to court to be a witness in a case that I am surprised got all the way to the county court, particularly as the incident allegedly happened in November 2007.

We met the barrister at around 1.30 and then waited to be called. After the barristers went in to the court room at 2.30 I was then left waiting for over an hour before I was called to give my evidence. At the end the judge kindly gave me permission to go but I asked if I could stay as I wished to see the outcome of the case. She kindly agreed and I can say that the person I was giving evidence on behalf of had the case against him dismissed. It was great to see, in my opinion, justice done in the court.

I don’t want to talk about the case as I don’t think that would be right but it was an amazingly interesting 4 or so hours that I spent in the courts. The number of conversations overheard was fascinating and the stress that many were under in family or small claim situations was clearly, and sadly, tangible. People were fairly emotional but despite this there was a strange air of calm about the place.

My main relfection from today is all around the idea of justice and how people can view the same incident differently. Today there were many people going into rooms to disagree with each other but, quite interestingly, willing to trust and abide by the judgment of one person after he or she had heard all the evidence from both sides. I think we take this for granted but I feel this is a massive plus of our society. Most of these people had very large grievances and yet – after being heard they were willing to allow someone else to make a decision that they would abide by.

Although some may ague that it is sad that most of these arguments could not be sorted out before hand, I think today has shown a real strength and credit of humanity and its trust of each other.

don’t sink the boats – sink the BNP!

I just had an email alerting me to this interview given by Nick Griffin where he states that he would would support civilian boats being targeted, fired upon and sunk. You can watch their exchange here.

This man needs to be exposed for what he really stands for – it is shocking that he will be representing our country in the European Parliament. That’s what happens when people choose to opt out and not vote!

mad injustice – please act

This morning Burma’s democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested by the regime and moved to Burma’s notorious Insein prison. It appears she will face trial for breaking the terms of her house arrest which forbids visitors, after an American man, John Yettaw, swam across Inya Lake and refused to leave her house.

Aung San Suu Kyi has committed no crime, she is the victim of a crime. There was an intruder in her house who refused to leave, yet she is the one being imprisoned.

HELP AUNG SAN SUU KYI – TAKE ACTION NOW
The United Nations and ASEAN must dispatch envoys to Burma to demand the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all Burma’s political prisoners.

Please go to this page where you can email the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon and ASEAN leaders to urge them to send envoys immediately.

As you know Burma’s generals will use any excuse to keep Aung San Suu Kyi detained. If strong action isn’t taken, Aung San Suu Kyi could face the rest of her life in jail.

Please take action now. Aung San Suu Kyi could now spend the rest of her life in jail.

REPUTATION OF UN AND ASEAN IS AT STAKE
It is not acceptable that the UN and ASEAN only speak out – they must take action. In the past their expressions of concern and statements have been ignored and defied by the Burmese regime. Words alone are not enough. The UN and ASEAN must immediately take real action and send high level envoys to Burma to ensure that Suu Kyi does not spend the rest of her life in jail.

HER DETENTION IS ILLEGAL UNDER BURMESE AND INTERNATIONAL LAW
Today Aung San Suu Kyi will have spent a total of 13 years and 202 days in detention. The United Nations has ruled that Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention is illegal under international law, and also under Burmese law. The United Nations Security Council has also told the dictatorship that they must release Aung San Suu Kyi.

Please take action now and ensure that Aung San Suu Kyi does not spend the rest of her life under arrest.

Thank you

Johnny Chatterton
Campaigns Officer
Burma Campaign UK

A divided society?

In Saturday’s Guardian, Polly Toynbee writes a good article about the expenses fiasco that has been an everyday reality for all MP’s regardless of party.

‘Only in a vastly divided society can leaders think such perks normal’ writes Toynbee and I think she is correct. She points out how inequality has been allowed to widen.

I found some interesting statistics
only 10% of the country earn more than £40 000
only 1% earn enough to be in the new higher tax bracket of over £150 000

90% of the population earn far less than our MP’s, bankers, financiers and so on. In light of high salaries we hear in the news I wondered what the average wage was in this country as I would have guessed that it would have been around the £40 000 mark knowing that in the Christian world we earn little.

Actually, the average salary in the UK is £24 000 although, a this report points out, many earn a lot less. Equally surprising is that in the last 10 years of boom the average salary has not changed that much.

Some of the amounts we have seen spoken of in these expenses claims dwarf the average annual salary of most people. That is shocking.

Toynbee hits the nail on the head – despite what the leader of the house says today the issue is not that information was leaked (although it is important to plug this) – the real issue and question is to ask ‘how has society become so divided. How, in the last decade of boom have we allowed top salaries for the very few to hit rocket levels while the average salary has stayed roughly the same.

When the minority lose touch with the majority and see their privilege as the norm abuses become commonplace.

stereotypes

The question, then, is why do the deaths of only some people from obscure diseases cause us to panic? And how can we be so unfeeling when we have the power to save the lives of millions by relatively simple, inexpensive precautions and treatments? The answer possibly lies in the profound hold that stereotypes have over our assessment of threats and our ability to empathise with others. Recent psychological research, including the mapping of brain activity, has established that stereotypes have a very powerful hold over us.

Interesting to see stereotypes and the efffects of stereotyping in blogs today. Jon’s cartoon over at ASBO Jesus and John Watson’s article pointed to by Hold this space cause us think what real effects stereotypes can have on how we react.

The article makes interesting reading and is a good topic for discussion.

enough?


Yesterdays ASBO cartoon points to the Christian Aid website where you can send an email to encourage action to help the innocent civilians of Gaza. I sent an email to Gordon Brown and received this response to pass on to others. If you are shocked, angered, saddened by what is happening in Gaza

I’ve taken action on the crisis in Gaza. We all need to act to stop innocent civilians being killed. Please take action too so that we can show the government how strongly we feel about this issue. Click here to email Gordon Brown encouraging him to act.

a small stand

Sometimes it takes a little country to make a stand for justice. If I were Venezuelian today I think I would be proud of my president who has expelled the Israeli envoy in protest at the Israeli offensive in Gaza reported here.

Mr Chavez is quoted to say:

“I call on the people of Israel to stand up against that government, to demand, to put a hand on their hearts and look at their children, and I call on the world to stop this madness.”

Who can disagree?

Lets pray that the world can stop this madness!

Gaza ASBO


As I have been watching the news over the last week I have felt myself getting angrier and angrier. The disproportionate reaction of Israel to Hamas is obscene and it seems no one cares that innocent men, women and children are being slaughtered in the name of ‘war on terror’.

Any other nation at all and the UN would be complaining and the US and UK would be asking for action. It’s Israel so we sit back and allow it to happen. Violence in all forms is wrong; it is wrong that Hamas rockets have killed 4 Israelis, it is wrong that the Israeli reaction has killed 460 Palestinians and left another 2300 injured. In this case … who is the real terrorist? It is hard, however, to maintain an unbiased view with figures that illustrate such a massive loss of life. Israels reaction is surely in breach of international law.

ASBO Jesus sums up well with the cartoon